… a tribute to the genius of Graham Rawle (still alive)…
Many years ago, I used to be an avid weekend reader of the Guardian newspaper. Every Saturday, I would trek down to the local newsagent (usually with a hangover from the night before) and pick up a copy of the bumper Saturday edition. Among the myriad of various pull-out supplements was the obligatory magazine, somewhat uninspiringly called Weekend. Despite this, the actual missive itself was packed full of highly entertaining content (much like my blog, in fact) and I would curl up on the sofa (back at home, not in the newsagent’s you understand) with a cup of tea and a packet of Fox’s Classic biscuits and lose myself for a good hour or so within its many pages.
Among my favourites were the regular contributors. David Stafford wrote a column called Staffordshire Bull, which contained humorous anecdotes and far-fetched tales rooted in real-life and I was delighted to discover that you can still read a selection of these on the website that he shares with his wife, Caroline. I can’t imagine what it’s like to share a website with your wife, it must be rather cramped, a bit like living in a council bedsit, but from the photos at least, they seem to be making a fairly good job of it.
Another, more serious contributor, was John Diamond, who chronicled his battle with cancer, week by week, up until his untimely death in March 2001. His column was a forerunner to today’s modern blog and I found myself immersed in his writing, as he detailed the various ups and downs of his illness against the hum-drum background of his day-to-day life. Although I never knew him personally, I remember feeling genuinely saddened when his column abruptly ended and I realised that he had sadly lost his fight with the terrible disease.
But it is Graham Rawle, creator of the wonderful Lost Consonants series, who I want to focus on today. Every week for fifteen years, a one-pane collage, complete with ‘cut out and keep’ scissor marks around it, would appear near the beginning of the magazine and have me in stitches with its sheer brilliance. The idea was simple, remove a single consonant from a phrase and give it a totally different meaning. Thus we had gems such as, ‘It had always been his ambition to pay for Aston Villa’, complete with a grinning John Fashanu in the background and ‘The Wilsons had gone out leaving their baby with a child miner.’
I don’t know why, maybe it was those subliminal scissor marks, but I began to religiously cut out and keep each week’s Lost Consonant, until the point where I’d built up a fairly sizeable collection of them. Not really being the scrapbooking type, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with my collection, until I found a fitting solution and covered a couple of old loose-leaf folders in them, preserving the images for posterity beneath transparent book sealing film, where they remain to this day. Now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology (actually just my mobile phone and a micro-USB cable) I’m able to share them with you here. So, strap yourself in tightly and prepare to enter an outrageous world of ‘cardboard ox’s’, ‘Paris priests’ and ‘a few kid words’!
Happily, Graham Rawle is still alive and most definitely productive. His latest novel, Overland, is based on the true story of the extreme camouflaging of the Lockheed Aircraft factory in Burbank, California, during the second world war and he also lectures extensively around the world on design and illustration.
If my collection of Lost Consonants hasn’t satiated your appetite then thankfully, you can view more of them on Graham Rawle’s website, here.